Concussion Testing Pilots Kick Off Fall

August 4, 2015

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

The Michigan High School Athletic Association kicked off the 2015-16 school year Monday by hosting 70 member high schools for training in two pilot sideline concussion testing programs aimed at assisting in decision-making regarding the removal of athletes from activity after possible concussion events and record-keeping of those events beginning this fall.

Illinois-based King-Devick Test and Maryland-based XLNTbrain Sport each will be used to monitor approximately 10,000 Michigan high school student-athletes drawn from schools representing all four classes and a variety of regions statewide.

The pilot programs are part of a three-pronged advance by the MHSAA in concussion care this fall. In addition to becoming the first state association to offer pilot sideline concussion testing, the MHSAA will be the first to mandate record-keeping by member schools of all possible concussion events from detection to an athlete’s return to play. The requirement applies to both practices and events, all levels of all sports in grades 7 through 12.

The MHSAA also this fall is the first state association to provide all participants at every MHSAA member high school and junior high/middle school with insurance intended to pay accident medical expense benefits – covering deductibles and co-pays left unpaid by other policies – resulting from concussions sustained during MHSAA practices or competitions. There is no cost to either schools or families.

“These pilot programs are intended to not only improve what’s actually happening on the sidelines at practices and contests in these communities that are part of the pilot programs, they’re intended to spread the word of the need for improved concussion detection across every community,” MHSAA Executive Director John E. “Jack” Roberts said. “We hope these schools involved will become involved in their leagues and conferences and with their peers across the state as we expand the awareness of the need for better sideline detection and provide ways to get it done.”

The MHSAA asked schools at the end of this spring to volunteer for the pilot programs and then selected participants in order to guarantee a variety of schools based on enrollment and location. Schools are committed to involving at least two sports for each gender each season.

Schools participating in the XLNTbrain Sport pilot program are: Adrian, Adrian Madison, AuGres-Sims, Bay City Central, Bear Lake, Brethren, Belding, Birmingham Groves, Brighton, Chesaning, Corunna, Detroit Collegiate Prep, East Kentwood, Fennville, Fowlerville, Gibraltar Carlson, Grand Rapids Christian, Grandville, Greenville, Grosse Ile, Hamilton, Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse, Hazel Park, Kalamazoo Christian, Lansing Christian, Macomb L’Anse Creuse North, Owosso, Pewamo-Westphalia, Portland, Reese, Rochester Hills Lutheran Northwest, St. Clair Shores Lakeview, St. Johns, Stanton Central Montcalm, Vermontville Maple Valley, West Bloomfield and Wyoming Kelloggsville.

Schools participating in the King-Devick Test pilot are: Bay City Western, Benton Harbor, Buchanan, Calumet, Caro, Caseville, Detroit Cody, Detroit Martin Luther King, Fenton, Flint Kearsley, Frankenmuth, Fruitport, Garden City, Grand Ledge, Grand Rapids Northview, Lake Leelanau St. Mary, Lake Linden-Hubbell, Lincoln Alcona, Midland Bullock Creek, Montague, Muskegon, Niles, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, Romeo, Saginaw Heritage, Scottville Mason County Central, Shelby, St. Charles, St. Joseph, Tawas, Vicksburg, Whitehall and Yale.

The King-Devick Test is a rapid eye movement screening evaluation that requires athletes to read single-digit numbers displayed on a tablet computer in order to detect impairments of eye movement, attention, language, concentration and other symptoms of abnormal brain function. The test has been validated in more than 50 recent peer reviewed articles published in elite medical journals and is associated with the Mayo Clinic.

The test is administered on the sidelines during evaluations for suspected head injuries, and the post-injury results are then compared to an athlete’s preseason baseline. Any worsening of performance (increased time and/or errors) suggests a concussion has occurred and the athlete should be “removed from play” for further evaluation.

“The first and most critical step in managing concussion in the youth athlete is to recognize when one has occurred – not always a simple task,” said Dr. David Dodick, professor of neurology and director of sports concussion services at the Mayo Clinic. “The King-Devick test helps take the guesswork and subjectivity out of the sideline evaluation in a rapid, accurate, and objective way.”

XLNTbrain Sport includes balance and web-based neuro-cognitive tests also used before the start of a season to create a baseline measurement of reaction time, attention, inhibition, impulsivity, memory, information processing efficiency and executive function. The test also assesses mood, anxiety, stress and emotionality.

After a possible head injury, a sideline assessment is done using a smartphone or tablet with those results then compared with the athlete’s baseline measurements. The program documents the severity of a concussion, provides a guide for on-the-field decision making regarding treatment and recovery time and can report results via email to parents, coaches, training staff and medical professionals.

Dr. Harry Kerasidis, who designed the XLNTbrain Sport software, presented at the Coalition for Concussion Treatment Summit at the United Nations building in 2014.

“We included an objective balance test that relies on smartphone accelerometer technology which is effective in the field during practice and game situations,” Kerasidis said. “Should a concussion injury be suspected, the system automatically generates a notification to parents and medical professionals and creates a recovery protocol and post-injury tracking so the right people can monitor the athlete’s progress. Then, the system assists medical professionals with the all-important return-to-learn and return-to-play clearance.”

Click for information on XLNTbrain Sport. Click for information on the King-Devick Test.

For more on Health & Safety, including preseason physical examination, hydration and cardiovascular resources in addition to concussion information and online training sessions, visit the MHSAA’s redesigned Health & Safety web page.

PHOTOS: (Top) Saginaw Heritage athletic director Peter Ryan (right) is administered the King-Devick baseline test by K-D's Samantha Figueroa. (Middle) XLNTbrain Sport creater Dr. Harry Kerasidis provides insight on his program to those being trained to use it Monday. 

Kent City's Evers Selected for NFHS National 'Coach of the Year' Honor

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

January 11, 2023

Kent City cross country coach Jill Evers has been named the 2021-22 National Coach of the Year for girls cross country by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Coaches Association.

Evers was selected by a committee including representatives from all eight NFHS sections – Michigan is part of Section 4 with Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin.

The following brief bio includes an excerpt from Evers’ coaching philosophy, which nominees were asked to submit after being identified as candidates for the awards.

Jill EversJill Evers joined the Kent City athletic staff as an assistant cross country coach in 1991 after previously coaching a season each at Allegan High School and Allegan Middle School. She took over Kent City’s girls and boys varsity cross country programs in 1993 and also has served as head girls track & field coach since 1993. She led Kent City’s girls cross country team to a Lower Peninsula Division 3 Final runner-up finish in 2021, the program’s second runner-up finish under her leadership, and she’s also guided Kent City’s girls program to 15 league and seven Regional titles and nine total top-eight Finals finishes. She previously was named an NFHS Section Coach of the Year for girls track & field in 2006 after leading Kent City’s girls track & field team to its first MHSAA Finals championship in that sport, and inducted into the Michigan Interscholastic Track Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2012. Evers also is a longtime science teacher at Kent City and advisor and mentor for a variety of school activities in addition to coaching.

“I know people say, ‘Athletics is an extension of the classroom,’ but I believe it's so much more than that. While participating in sports, young people can learn about themselves and others, challenge themselves and grow physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially. Athletics is where we learn life lessons, such as how to lose with grace, cheer for teammates and even opponents, win with humility, deal with adversity, empathize with others, respect all those involved, be grateful for healthy bodies and opportunities to compete and push ourselves beyond what was originally thought possible. Success is different for each person, but I believe cross country lends itself to individual success. Everyone can improve and learn lifelong healthy habits. Everyone can set and achieve goals. Those who aren't as fast often earn the respect of the more gifted runners because of their perseverance. It is my job as a coach to encourage, motivate, and challenge all students who want to participate, and then congratulate them for a job well done.”

Three more Michigan coaches earned honors in Section 4. Mark Posey was honored in boys golf after leading Big Rapids to a 10th-place finish in Lower Peninsula Division 3 in 2022 after four straight Finals runner-up finishes. (There was no LP boys golf season in 2020 due to COVID-19.) Lake Orion boys lacrosse coach Ronald Hebert was honored after guiding his team to the Division 1 Quarterfinals last spring after taking the Dragons to the Semifinals in 2021. Scott Werner was honored in girls track & field after leading Pewamo-Westphalia to a runner-up finish at the Lower Peninsula Division 3 Finals. P-W shared the LPD3 Finals championship in 2021 and has won titles four of the last nine seasons (not counting 2020).

The NFHS has been recognizing coaches through an awards program since 1982.